Family Files Lawsuit Against Shifflet And Daycare

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A second civil lawsuit has been filed against Thomas Shifflet, who was convicted of gross sexual imposition for actions at two daycares.

The parents of a 9-year-old child who went to Gura's Day Care, owned by Tammy and Jeffrey M. Gura, on Monserat Ridge Road are suing the daycare and Thomas Shifflet for $25,000 on each of four counts, according to a lawsuit filed Sept. 19. Tammy Gura is Shifflet's daughter.

Shifflet, 76, was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of gross sexual imposition against four children. A jury convicted him on one count, and Shifflet entered no contest pleas to the three other charges.

The victim mentioned in the Gura lawsuit was one of the victims for which Shifflet pleaded no contest in the form of an Alford plea, according to County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn. The plea allowed Shifflet to plea without admitting guilt for the offense.

In June, two separate families filed suit for children who are now 5 and 6 years old. Those children attended Down on the Farm Child Care, owned by Jody and David Dearth. Shifflet is also Jody Dearth's father.

Neither the daycare centers nor the owners of the daycares were found criminally liable in the Shifflet case, according to previous Messenger reporting.

This lawsuit against Shifflet and the Guras alleges Shifflet regularly visited the childcare facility and interacted with the children "with the knowledge, consent and approval of the Guras," according to court documents.

Because of the contact between Shifflet and the minor mentioned in the lawsuit, the child has suffered mental and emotional distress, "severe psychological stress, damage, disorder and scarring," embarrassment and humiliation and "required and will continue to require medical and psychological care and treatment with resulting expenses," the family claims in the lawsuit.

The parents of the child also claim distress, expenses for medical and psychological care and say they have "suffered and will continue to suffer the loss of the society and companionship of their daughter."

The family faults the Guras for failing to restrict Shifflet's access to the children, failing to warn the parents of Shifflet's "history and propensities," failing to investigate Shifflet's background and operating a childcare facility with "inadequate staffing, supervision and in violation of Ohio law."

In total, the lawsuit asks for $100,000 in damages and attorney fees.

The lawsuit against the Dearths continues as well. After a request for a summary judgment was filed on Aug. 28 by the defense, an attorney for the families asked the court for an extension of time to respond.

The request for additional time, filed Sept. 5, states that the motion for summary judgment is "clearly an attempt to greatly narrow the window for plaintiffs to conduct discovery in this matter," which depends on cooperation from defendants themselves, according to arguments filed by the families' attorney, Terry Hummel.

"This case involves complex and difficult facts involving sexual assaults on minor girls at a daycare center by the father of the owner of the daycare center," Hummel wrote, adding that the motion for summary judgment is "premature."

Hummel asked that the response time be extended by at least 60 days. The current deadline was Sept. 13.

Scott Lavelle, attorney for the Dearths, called the extension request a "fatal defect," with a lack of legal authority to back it up.